Baby Talk With James Otto
Photo Courtesy of Warner Music
James Otto and his wife of five years, Amy, are thinking pink. Their first child, a baby girl named Ava Katherine, is due next month. The proud dad-to-be -- who has another special delivery on September 14 with the release of his new album, 'Shake What God Gave Ya' -- sits down with The Boot to take our prenatal pop quiz.
How did Amy break the news to you that she was pregnant?
I was out on the road, and I got back in, and she was standing in our house with balloons and a ribbon around her, and I thought, "Well, this is exciting. I'm coming home and maybe she's just excited for me to be home." I was trying to think -- did I miss some kind of occasion? Then I realized they were pink and blue balloons, and they had rattles wrapped around them. So she made a real special event out of it. She had really gone out of her way ... It was a thrilling moment.
How did you react?
Oh, man, it's the greatest thrill of my life so far! It's one of those things you don't expect. I'm sure I looked pretty dumbfounded at first, but we celebrated. There were some tears shed ... tears of happiness and excitement and wondering what all this change is going to bring to your life.
Who was the first person you called?
We didn't tell anybody for about three months, then we called our folks and told them.
Did you and Amy both agree that you wanted to know the sex of your child ahead of time?
Yeah. It's kind of a surprise either way, isn't it? I mean, whether you find out when the baby comes out or you find out when they do the test. We both wanted to know and be prepared and have a nursery set up for the baby when she got there. I know once the baby is born, there is plenty to deal with other than thinking about those kinds of things.
Who came up with the name Ava?
We [both] did. We looked through a bunch of names ... got the baby names book and were going through it. We had a list of about 10 names, and once we finally figured out the sex, literally we chose Ava within about ten minutes of knowing the baby was going to be a girl. We just said, "Ava Otto just sounds right." Plus Ava and Otto are both a palindrome -- you can spell them both backwards and forwards.
Does your wife have that glow women get when they're pregnant?
Yeah, I think so. She's had to, unfortunately, work really hard the whole time. I've been gone most of the time since she's been pregnant. I've been out playing shows, and trying to earn a living for someone else's dreams now. She's had to put our house up for sale ... we're moving into another one, and it's been a long process. She's managed to figure out how to balance it all. She seems pretty healthy and happy to me. We lived in a condo for years. There just wasn't room in the condo for a baby so we decided that we better step it up and actually buy a house.
What odd foods does your wife crave?
She hasn't had any wild cravings. Every once in a while she'll say she wants some ice cream, but no pickles and peanut butter in the middle of the night!
Are you helping to decorate the nursery?
Being on the road with Toby Keith and Trace Adkins, I'm not around as much as I would like to decorate the nursery. Amy and her mom are going to town. We've got more pink stuff in our house than you would imagine. There's a pink explosion at our house.
You're on tour with Toby and Trace through August 21. Will Toby let you off when your wife calls that she's about to give birth?
She's due on August 23. My last date is the 21st, so we're hoping that it happens right on time. It's one of those things, if the baby comes early, I'll be on the first flight home. I'm taking a couple of weeks off right after the baby is born so I can be there to help Amy take care of her. I want to be there for the birth of my child for sure. It's one of those things that you just don't know how many times it will happen in your life, and I want to be there to experience it all.
Three macho men touring together who all have daughters ... Will you ask Toby and Trace for some advice on raising girls?
Yeah, absolutely. If they have some advice for me, I'll be more than happy to take it. It's something that I think requires a lot of advice, and anybody who has put some years into it is going to have some good stuff to offer, so I definitely plan on picking their brains.
Will you help change diapers?
Absolutely! I'm not going to write off any of it. Whatever she needs help with, I'm going to be there for her. It's my duty as a dad to do whatever is necessary, and I'm all about taking that serious.
Do you think your Chihuahua, Isabella, will accept the new addition to the family?
She's a very sweet dog. A lot of Chihuahuas, they say, are one-people animals. She really isn't. She's very social, so I expect she won't have any problems adapting to one more person in the family.
Knowing what you know about how teenage boys can be, are you already nervous about being the father of a teenage girl, or is it too early to worry about that?
Oh no, it's never too early to start worrying about that. I've kind of decided that she won't date while I'm alive ... I've already been practicing my lines. My favorite one so far is, "Whatever you do to her over the course of the night, I'm going to do to you when you get back. So y'all go out and have a good time." I'm going to scare the hell out of every teenage boy who comes in the house.
So maybe you should have some little brothers for her who will grow up to protect her.